Did the Referees Cost the Warriors a Win at the Lakers?

Many Warriors fans are in full refs-must-die mode after Saturday’s loss at the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the 118-116 loss, the referees called the Warriors for 16 more fouls than the Lakers, leading to a 50-16 disparity in free throws. That ‘s a big difference

Certainly, there were some questionable calls. (The Steph Curry foul on Steve Blake. Jarrett Jack getting knocked to the ground hard without a call. The contact on the left-hand layup by Klay Thompson, when Pau Gasol fell into the cameras, that should’ve been a three-point play.) And you can easily argue the referees were too much of a factor in the game.

But is that why the Warriors’ lost? Let’s look at this with a closer lense

* Dwight Howard took 22 of those 50. Part of the reason for the high free throw number was the Warriors’ obvious plan to foul Dwight instead of letting him get an easy basket. That not only sends Dwight to the line, but it puts the Warriors in the penalty. You can call it a good strategy, except he made 14 of them

* The Lakers took 16 free throws in the fourth quarter. They made 11. So they got 11 points off about 8 possessions. That’s just a third of their 33 fourth-quarter points.

Let’s just say the Warriors aren’t called for fouls and they just played those possessions. Well, Los Angeles shot 64.3 percent in the fourth quarter. How much would they have scored on those 8 possessions against the Warriors D? 12? 14? They might’ve made out better with the free throws

* The Lakers racked up 38 points from the free throw line. When they weren’t at the line, they shot 51.5 percent: 34 of 66. They made 12 of 25 from 3 (48 percent). That resulted in 80 points NOT FROM FREE THROWS.

Coming into the game, the Lakers were shooting 46 percent from the field and 35.4 from 3-point range. If the Warriors just hold the Lakers to their average, Los Angeles would have only made about 19 of their 2-pointers and about 9 of their 3-pointers (I rounded up). That amounts to 65 points not from free throws. Now we’re looking at the Lakers getting about 103 instead of 118.

* The Warriors took 97 shots (that doesn’t include free throws) and 29 of them were in the paint. That means roughly 70 percent of the Warriors’ shots were outside shots. Conversely, the Lakers took 66 shots (not including free throws). But they also took 29 shots in the paint. That means roughly 56 percent of their shots were from outside. We all know the calls go to the aggressor.

Clearly, the refs were calling it tight. The Lakers milked it by playing inside-out. The Warriors stayed outside.

* The Warriors rank No. 2 in the league in personal fouls committed. Is that because the referees job them every game? Or is it because they are a team of suspect individual defenders who compensate by reaching and slapping, trying to force turnovers? Or is it because they have gone small a lot, leaving them often helpless against bigger, physical players? Or is it because they, lately, are habitually not where they need to be, late on their rotations and unable to do much but foul?

***** In my opinion, the refs usually make the right call. I’m often amazed at how much replay bares them out. The problem often is the lack of consistency and skewed context. Technically, Barnes did foul Kobe. Hand-checked him when he made his move. But they don’t call that all the time. Replays showed Curry MIGHT HAVE reached through the screen and grabbed Blake. But in the context of time, situation, you don’t call that. He was 40 feet from the basket *****

As with any game, a number of things factor in. Sometimes, the refs make bad calls, or call the game too tight, or let too much slide. But also, sometimes the altitude is an issue. Sometimes you’re playing the fourth game in five nights. Sometimes you have travel issues and barely sleep. Sometimes guys just don’t have Sometimes the fans are so loud you can’t hear. Sometimes players catch a cold. Sometimes the other team is just feeling it, or are ice cold.

Those are all things that are out of the control of the Warriors. It all just comes with a season. The real story is how this team plays. All those variable are part of it. But they are just that — variables. What really matters are the constants. I believe Mark Jackson knows that. Which is why though he may not like officiating, you don’t see him leaning on that to pacify his wounded feelings.

Remember, they are a no excuse basketball team.

Marcus Thompson

  • Dave

    The real story is the refs shouldn’t even be an issue. The refs don’t have the right to cheat but they cheat intentionally and are told to do so by David Stern!

  • Joan Stutes

    I still think the refs were inclined or instructed to get Lakers into the play offs. I appreciate Marcus’ explanation, but really if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is most likely a duck. And this was most likely the refs doing their job to get L A into the play offs.

  • EastBayWarrior

    You make good points MT and when it is all said and done Carl Landry has to hit that wide open jumper to win the game, which he clanked…BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THERE WEREN’T OBVIOUS BAD CALLS.

    You are trying to be too diplomatic and apologetic. BAD CALLS, ARE BAD CALLS.

    By arguing that the refs weren’t the sole reason the Warriors lost the game — doesn’t mean their was no validity to people questioning many of those clearly questionable calls.

    Don’t imply that Dubs fans are making excuses. You say yourself that “Certainly, there were some questionable calls.” End of story.

  • a42

    I think it was more about calls like when Metta grabbed Festus’ arm and threw him around and somehow Festus was called for the loose ball foul. There were simply too many egregiously bad calls like that away from the basket. Think the outrage is based upon how blatantly bad many calls were than the total number of calls.

  • coltraning

    not sure what game you were watching Marcus. I am usually with you on officiating. But it was egregiously bad last night. And No, Barnes did NOT foul Kobe. Nor did Curry foul Blake on the pick by Howard. And Ezeli did not foul Artest when Metta grabbed his arm.

    Yes, some of the fouls were absolutely the Ws putting Howard at the line. Good strategy, as well, as even with his better than normal FT %, he still got 4-6 less than he would have if he’d been allowed to dunk. And yes, LA drove inside far more often.

    STILL! The game was decided by 2 points, and there were at least 6 very dubious calls against the Dubs, worth about 7 points to the Lakers. The Ws still could have won the game, missing 3 very makeable shots and a bad TO in the last 90 seconds. It does not change the fact that the refs leaned towards the Lakers. The reason Jackson did not get hot was that he wisely wanted to avoid a T in such a razor tight game.

    Any number of small things caused the Lakers to squeak away with a win, but the refs were absolutely a part of it.

  • If that wasnt blatant cheating dont know what is. Tis was total bs, the leauge should be ashamed of its officiating crew or is that they wanted to play it out

  • whatnot

    Sad how no journalists with the guts to call this what it is. This Laker team generates too much press and ratings not to be included in the playoffs.

    Recent FT disparity is insane in favor of the Lakers and the Jazz (who are 7th in the league overall) can’t get to the line at all. The dubs even out shot them 18-7.


    The worst calls were the ones that decided the game with under 4 minutes to play. Those 2 Steve Blake throws ended up being the game winning points.

    But no one with a voice will say anything, just like in 2002, when Sacramento was robbed of their only chance to ever win a major sports title. It’s not like Stern hides it, he even said his dream Finals would be Lakers vs Lakers and that there is something magical about the Lakers.

    Oh well, sucks to be a Sacramento or Utah fan. At least the dubs have some hope once they move to SF and the Kings are gone… maybe they can generate enough ratings to be like the Lakers and the Knicks.

  • whatnot

    Oh, and stop with the “this isn’t why they lost the game” bs. the reason they lost is b/c of the refs. Now, they had a chance to overcome the refs and still win despite going 5 on 8 and didn’t accomplish that, but this should have been a 116 to 100-106 game.

  • Joe Barely Cares

    I was more upset by the no-calls in favor of LA, like the time Kobe pushed off with his right arm on his way to the basket. It was right in front of the ref who was staring right at it & failed to call a foul. Even the Laker’s broadcast team was surpised at that one.

  • playoffbound

    Here ya go:


    Tell Portland, Sac, Denver, and Dallas that Marcus…

  • …scotch

    Wow Marcus you really come off as quite the contrarian on this one. Kinda unusual. You got out the old #2 pencil & massaged those stats?

    What did you see tho? E.g. you say “Replays showed Curry MIGHT HAVE reached through the screen and grabbed Blake” You didn’t see that 7′ 260lb moving screen blast Curry into Blake? You didn’t see Ezeli foul out on Metta clearly grabbing him? You didn’t see some beautiful D by Klay rewarded with phantom fouls? etc. etc.

    Sorry Marcus this game was everything that Tim Donaghy accused Stern of doing…manipulating games. I noticed many of you & your brethren not touching this issue today in your game stories. And that sir creates a free reign for Stern to get away with it!

    Warriors win this one going away with fair officiating…end of story!

  • Niners in 2012

    Curry getting called for a foul by DHowards illegal screen, it lead to 2 pts for Blake. Just ridiculous.

  • bill

    absurd. for you or anyone to side with he refs in this particular game is absurd….all Kobe’s career he has got the reputation calls, the benefit of the doubt…and for Blake to shoot because a moving pick is not called against Howard leads to one inevitable conclusion….there was a phone call made….Stern or somebody at his behest called the ref team (which had been handpicked to include the submissive Mc Cutcheon and the biased Adams) and it went sort of like this:

    hey we need you guys to make sure the Lakers win this game so they can get into the playoffs…remember it’s the only thing NBA tv has to talk about, the first and last thing out of the mouths of all the talking heads…so put those guys on the line and screw the Warriors, we’ve already got a predetermined script for how the playoffs are going to go…..a story to tell..

    the fact Kobe stayed in the game after straining his Achilles is on the idiot D1Antoni whose only response to Curry going bananas was to send the criminal thug Artest into the game to try to intimidate him…..God for the good ol’ days when a good team had somebody who would walk over to Artest and smack him down like the petulant bully child he is….but we don’t have that guy….the only player visibly upset after the loss was Jack (who was thrown to the floor by Howard’s left hand)…and the only sweet justice is that Kobe is going to out longer than Chauncey Billups with the same kind of injury, and if he comes back he’ll be nothing but a mamba shadow….

    painful thing is, somebody, some network will sign him up to do commentary……and he will have more time on his hands to rape hotel clerks….

    without the free throws he is an ordinary player….

  • …scotch

    Wow Marcus you really come off as quite the contrarian on this one. Kinda unusual. You got out the old #2 pencil & massaged those stats?

    What did you see tho? E.g. you say “Replays showed Curry MIGHT HAVE reached through the screen and grabbed Blake” You didn’t see that 7′ 260lb moving screen blast Curry into Blake? You didn’t see Ezeli foul out on Metta clearly grabbing him? You didn’t see some beautiful D by Klay rewarded with phantom fouls? etc. etc.

    Sorry Marcus this game was everything that Tim Donaghy accused Stern of doing…manipulating games. I noticed many of you & your brethren not touching this issue today in your game stories. And that sir creates a free reign for Stern to get away with it!

    Warriors win this one going away with fair officiating…end of story!

  • Jaytee

    Let’s not forgot the Kobe fadeaway foul that Ezeli was called for, or the Curry strip of DHo and him flailing his arms like the crybaby he is. Seriously…hand check from Barnes??

  • JJ

    This article amazingly glosses over the atrocity of the refs. “No excuse” basketball team. Well, last night they really had an excuse. This was the worst officiating I’ve seen since the 2006 Finals, and to act like it’s no big deal is letting them off the hook. And of course they had every motivation to call it that way. The refs deserved all the scorn in the world because that was beyond ridiculous. As a basketball fan, it was a disgusting thing to watch because they were basically dictating the entire game.

  • Jaytee

    And isnt something wrong with officiating if the agressor is automatically rewarded each time? How is that fair?

  • Northpole510

    Game was rigged. Investigate!!

  • …scotch

    Marcus suggest you take a mulligan on this one…

  • Dav

    Marcus, Watch this…

    The Art of Rigging NBA Games

    Part 1:

  • wil

    The refs did cheat against the Warriors. Their mandate from stern was to make sure the Lakers. I have the facts to prove iy. The refs are crooks and despicable, the refs won the game for the lakers. This is not the only time the refs do this to the Warriors. David Syern is mafia along with the crook, sellout refs

  • wil

    The refs did cheat against the Warriors. Their mandate from stern was to make sure the Lakers won. I have the facts to prove iy. The refs are crooks and despicable, the refs won the game for the lakers. This is not the only time the refs do this to the Warriors. David Syern is mafia along with the crook, sellout refs

  • EastBayWarrior

    Quit trying to be so diplomatic and apologetic Marcus…No fans are saying the calls were the sole factor the Warriors lost — so why are you implying fans are making excuses?

    As you say “Certainly, there were some questionable calls.” Thats all fans are saying. There is no “but” after that. What else needs to be said? Bad calls are bad calls…

  • A remedy for this malady? Exert more of an effort on the defensive end & commit some of the energy stored up for offensive sorties into defending the opposition.

    If the W’s beat Utah, Orlando (twice) 7 some of the other inferior squads that they let dictate the tempo or physicality of the game last night isn’t even an issue. They would comfortable be in sixth place awaiting an injury depleted Denver squad.

    instead they will be cannon fodder for San Antonio (most likely) or OKC.

    Either way a team that knows they have an inferior opponent on the floor will administer the foot to the (in the prone position) throat treatment, which hopefully will result in much soul searching for the W’s this offseason. It SHOULD be an empty playoff (one & done) series for the W’s as they can think of what they coulda been. Hopefully they grow (immature team) from this. . .

    Perhaps JJ Hickson (where would they be if he had signed with them in the first place?) will sign with them next year (but if memory serves he has one more year to run on his current contract with the Jailblazers. . .). . .

    Gotta be real, folks. . .blame the W’s. . .they put themselves in this position. . .nobody else is responsible. . .

  • whoru

    Those phantom fouls, the lakers didn’t make the basket nor get the rebounds which means more possessions for the dubs and less pts for the lakers. Also remember how bad the lakers transition defense is. By calling these phony fouls, it gives the lakers a chance to get back and set up their defense.

  • Dave

    The Art of Rigging NBA Games

    Part 2:

    (must see)

  • Wilson

    The Warriors do commit too many fouls. Apparently they haven’t been told that when the whistles start blowing, they – Klay especially – needs to back off slightly, keep their hands out of there, don’t give the refs an excuse – because foul calls, like line drives, are contagious – and you need to avoid fouling a few times down to reset the referees’ foul meters.

    That said, there are games where there’s just one bad call after another, and an impartial observer would say that there’s something funny in the water. I doubt that there was an actual conspiracy, but some officials react stupidly to players, especially stars, exaggerating. You can say that “technically” Barnes fouled Kobe, but “technically” there are multiple fouls on every play down the court. What happened on that play was that Kobe’s Achilles tore, he fell of his own accord, and the ref figured that there must have been a foul. Amateur hour.

  • Wilson

    By the way, I miss the days when a Warrior coach would go ballistic when things got ridiculous. Nellie could intimidate the officials – or at least get them thinking, “Am I in fact screwing up?” Jackson, a preacher man, stays calm. Too calm. If the coach and players don’t rant and scream like maniacs the refs will assume they’re doing a fine job. Which they sure weren’t last night.

  • Jaytee
  • Jason

    worst game i ever watched. done with the NBA. not fun to watch when Stern and the Refs cheat.

  • playoffbound

    Anyone who does not think this game was fixed should have their head examined. It’s not just a one game deal for the Lakers. As I posted last time on the videos–the refs called it one sided against Portland, Sac, Dallas, Denver, and now us. Come on Marcus. You are an excellent Warriors reporter, but you are dropping the ball on this one. This is so obvious…

  • earl monroe

    Again repeating my take:

    Free throw disparity aside.

    The Lakers got lucky that Marck Jackson went with a pick and roll set up on the last play of the game, he should have flattened the Lakers out and let Curry go one on one on Blake, the pick and roll just took the ball out of Curry’s hands, live and learn its a maturing team with a young coach as well.
    Especially as hot as Curry was he shoot have taken the last shot.

  • Grey Warden

    David Stern ordered MT2 to write this article, otherwise he’d face a $25k fine 😉

  • Dave

    Not saying this is happening here, but the NBA related media does put out articles that everything is fine in order to do a coverup to the fans eventhough the fans can see with their own eyes everything is not fine. 8:20 of Part 2 of the “Art of Rigging NBA Games” covers this almost same exact same scenario with the free throw disparity.

  • Stan

    50-16. FIFTY TO SIXTEEN!!!.

  • Dave

    Is the NBA rigged? NBA insiders speak…


  • Nbaisfraud

    Where do I start. First the refs are horrible but why? Nba wants the stars in the finals? Of course. Kobe is on espn every 2 mins and the refs get brainwashed that if he falls or screams it has to b a foul. Regardless the nba has to realize we all have dvr’s now and we watch the fraud take place non stop. Nba should be ashamed. We get the real winners in all other sports but not in the nba. The story was so nice….Kobe out for season but the lakers still pulled it out. That sounds much better to the nba and espn than…they lost Kobe and the game. @nbaisfraud

  • Dave

    Michael Jordan: Untouchable (part 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmlfiMDUTQ4

    It is so obvious now.

  • zorro

    Even the with Ref calling every calls and non calls for the Lakers, they still may not make the 8th seed. Go Jazzzz

    Marcus, a little disappointed with this article. You are still OK in my book. 🙂

  • Nigel Tufnel

    Marcus, I like you as a writer, but I disagree with this article, it looks like you set out to write with an agenda, and selected facts to fit your story. Sure, the stuff about the Warriors playing less physical and all that is true, but this game was an abomination, and obviously so. I very rarely feel officials cost a game (even to the Warriors) but in this game they did and it wasn’t even close.

    The look on Curry’s face after the DH12 screen “foul” pretty much says it all. The Warriors were getting bent over and screwed and they absolutely knew it.

  • Nbaisfraud

    Who would have thought the heat would have shot ten more free throws. Not a huge discrepancy but so predictable.

  • ddog

    Specious arguments: the game was poorly refereed and egregiously biased.

    Refs called not what occurred but what they expected to see. Case in point was Curry’s “foul” on Blake: it was a moving screen, but Curry has a reputation as a poor defender so the ref called what he expected to see.

    At this point in his career, Kobe hand checks and holds more then Curry, or so it seems to me.

    With luck, the Warriors will enjoy an improved reputation regarding their defense, and next year they will not rank so highly in fouls.

  • playoffbound


    Don’t worry about David Stern giving you a fine you because he can’t. The players and coaches, on the other hand, can’t complain about refs, but as a reporter you can. Maybe it is up to the media to keep the integrity of the game. Time for a little investigative reporting maybe. You and Tim Kawakami would be perfect for this. I don’t always agree with Tim, but he speaks his mind–right or wrong. The media and fans will need to save the integrity of the NBA. Stephen Curry’s great game was wasted because of this blatant fixing of a Laker game.

  • Ewok

    In addition to the examples Marcus Thompson sited, The clean steal of Curry off Howard is a very questionable foul, The foul call on Barnes on Kobe where Kobe finally popped his achilles is also very dubious.. There was no contact by Barnes on Kobe right there…

    Incompetence or something else?

    A couple of years ago, i referre was caught fixing the game and was suspended or dismissed… That was about 5 years ago.. Am i suspicious? Yes, because of this precendent.. No, because everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, in this case, incompetence.. But totally worthy of investigation..

    We were the better team that evening.

  • Grey Warden

    I was just joking about the David Stern fine thing, but if Stern really wanted to punish a media member, he could always just deny them access to the locker rooms or the stadium(s) itself. That would make MT2 or TK hesitant to write something negative about the refs or the NBA in general.

  • Kobe Bryant

    Wah, wah, wah. Quit crying Warriors fans. There is no conspiracy to get the Lakers in the playoffs. I hate that lame notion. If Stern is so pro Lakers and wants the Lakers in the playoffs every year he never would have vetoed the CP3 trade. That would have locked them as a playoff team for the next ten seasons. You lost the game. Move on. You should be used to losing to LA by now.

  • Ben Brung

    We’d pretty much need a credible confession of guilt from an official involved to provide definitive proof. The problem for the league, though, is how plausible and mainstream their culture has made the idea of officials would steer the outcome in the direction of one team. Once they began marketing superstars rather than teams or the game itself, they incentivized the success of their superstars. Once you go there statisticians can tell you the probability that people will make decisions for their own gain.

    The idea that players “earn their reputation” is essentially unchallenged and usually stated as if it makes logical sense. Why is this not the most ludicrous and laughable maxim in sports when it essentially says the game should be called based on something other than objective observation. I don’t care what lipstick you put on that pig it’s ugly. There isn’t any moral imperative that can logically explain the thinking. It’s the opposite of parity, it doesn’t promote fundamentals it doesn’t directly reward hard work unless you squint your eyes and try really hard not to think about. It lines up pretty well with a financial imperative, however. With financial incentive and differential officiating presumably already in place, it makes no logical sense that the financial reward of associated with a Laker playoff series it defies logic doubt the real possibility that the fix is in – let’s call it what it is. It’s already implied but bears repeating that it also deinsentivizes anyone drawing a hardline to stop the progression and expansion of the practices. Theoretically, this could push the game to a breaking point where a lack of integrity destroys the competition element to the point where fans can’t wring a thrill out of it anymore.

    But, yeah . . . maybe you’re right and the refs got it right.

  • nervous mark


    80 points from not FT’s, is that it? That “proves” the W’s didn’t get unfair treatment fromt the refs? Please.

    That still leaves 38 points from FT’s! It’s not just the W’s. Somebody posted a youtube video above of several recent Laker oponents getting jobbed on obviously bad calls near the end of close games. Even Stu Lantz who is one of the biggest Laker homers could be heard laughing about how bad some of the calls were.

    I live in LA and have watched the end of many Laker games the second half of this season. Whether you want to accept it, or not, the Lakers are getting sweetheart officiating. Who knows the reason, but it’s a fact, none the less.

  • bill

    let’s give Jack Nicholson a whistle and he can call the game from his courtside lounge chair and we’d have a more fair distribution of foul calls…..it was a farce….it’s over but it was a farce and not the first farce…..Adams and Mc Cutcheon and the other clown were handpicked to torpedo the warriors and now all we hear is not the 47 point from Steph but the loss of the fabled Kobe…..one of the other bloggers here called it sweetheart officiating and that’s a perfect phrase for it…a couple of others alluded to Tim Donaghy….true stuff, bro…..we’re talking a multi-billion dollar business (especially if you factor in gambling) and the NBA has wanted the Lakers in the playoffs all year long…..

    screw ’em

    Go Jazz

  • Stan

    Worse is producer Lou Adler who sits next to Nicholson every game,and tries his best to scream look at me with those white framed sunglasses and white hushpuppies. His uniform to prove he’s somebody.

  • Stan

    I cant see MT2 how 50-16 proves it was a fair game. Custer was on a even playing field too I guess.

  • young
  • WarriorRaiderA’s

    So obvious was the slanted officiating (in the lakers favor) that we all came to the conclusion on our own, going mad in front of our TV’s!!! We all finally saw some of Sterns benefits for the first time this year, in like what seems to be forever, and I believe this new goodwill was generated in large part by the new Dub’s owners vowing to shell out for a new stadium on their own! To put another NBA franchise on water front property, and on its own dime!!! All of a sudden the ball starts bouncing our way in the lottery, and we keep 9 over all (Barnes), and then his old pet Hornets decide to throw in Jarret Jack to a trade that didn’t involve him, on an already announced done deal trade, and by printed report was already a done deal that ridded us of DWright, but netted us only a no name player in return, but some how, 25th hour the Hornets float us the 6th man of the year in there for us no extracharge! Stern does play God and pick favorites, so I say, whats one game to the Lakers? If in fact we are one of the next NBA “sweet hearts” what with Curry becoming an NBA Star, and GS potentially owning all of Nor Cal from the SF water front, maybe we start getting derrick rosed next time we slip into the lottery, lol, and start getting calls in big time games, at least the ones we deserve, having a fair shot at it. Jackson knows where this ship is headed, he’s taking his lumps gratefully and gracefully, knowing that they have to earn that in this league, and that yes, star power rules the league now, more than ever, so lets hope Curry’s star continues to rise along with Barnes and Klay, until they mature, the other teams with Star’s will be getting calls. Right now David Lee could get to the line more for us because he is an all star, he needs to, if we stand a chance in RD 1!!!

  • Daniel S.

    I’ll ask this question, though — of the bad calls, which to me, there were several — can you imagine a scenario where this ever, and I do mean EVER, would favor the Warriors?

    The Warriors do not set themselves up to get the 50/50 calls with their jump-shooting ways, the Lakers had a huge size advantage, etc. But I’m just saying, in your head, if the Lakers and Warriors played 50 games, can you imagine a scenario in which in even one of those games there are several questionable calls that favor the Warriors?

    I’m trying to be objective, and I just cannot imagine that scenario…that is what bothers me moreso than this individual game, the thought that no matter how many times they played, the best Warrior fans can hope for is an evenly called game.